Falling from Silence is the seventy-third book by David Slavitt, the prolific poet, translator, and editor. His amazing rate of production has only amplified and refined the power of his art. This is the work of an accomplished veteran, a craftsman who laments the limitations of what his hard-earned talent can do in the face of age and loss. He turns to religion, reads the classics, and in moments of cheer that may not be mere mania, he horses around and fools with the words that have been his toys, but nothing helps — or, more accurately, nothing helps enough. It is nevertheless true that, as he says in “Pen,”
that danced in the light like gnats will suddenly light
on some twig of a notion a held breath can make tremble
in an unpredictable motion—like this pen’s—
that no one would think could bear the fruit of truth.
Ranging in length from four lines to several pages and in tone from devilish and droll to dignified and desolate, the poems here examine death and aging and bespeak the reassuring connection between the generations. Slavitt’s wry wit, profound humanity, and agile intellect illuminate every page of Falling from Silence. In contrast to its title, it is, indeed, a resounding poetic triumph.
David R. Slavitt has published more than one hundred books, including The Seven Deadly Sins and Other Poems, Change of Address, and William Henry Harrison and Other Poems. Born in White Plains, New York, and educated at Andover, Yale, and Columbia, Slavitt has worked at Newsweek and has taught at Temple University, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Bennington College.
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